Friday, May 9, 2014

Dishwasher Detergent

For today's post I dug back into our submission archives and found a great cleaning submission that was sent to us 2 years ago. I think it's high time we have it up on the blog, don't you?

Julie found the following pin for a cheap yet effective homemade dishwasher detergent:

Julie explains her experience like this: "First off, it was a MAJOR pain to mix it up.  One of the ingredients totally clumped (either the Borax or the washing soda, but I forgot since I made this a while ago and didn't use it until my store bought ran out), and I spent probably twenty minutes digging through the mixture and breaking up the clumps, which required some major elbow grease.  I did buy the citric acid, as dying my dishwasher yellow with Kool-Aid didn't seem like an ideal plan.  That and the the Lemi-Shine were difficult to find, so I ordered them off of Amazon."

"I used this stuff for the first time in our brand new dishwasher.  The first time, I used 1 tablespoon as directed, and I had to rewash about a fourth of the load.  Also, a small blob of it remained in the soap dispenser." 

"The second time, I used 2 tablespoons.  Even using double, if it worked, would be a great value.  No such luck.  The dishes looked clean enough, but a big blob remained in the soap dispenser, and gooey clumps were all over the inside of the door and walls." 

"When I unloaded them, they still definitely had gunk on them, despite the fact that they had been pretty well rinsed before being loaded.  The clumping ingredients reclumped in the final product, meaning that using it is not as simple as pouring it out of a neat little dispenser, you have to scrape off what you need each time."

"I really wish I had made a smaller test batch.  Maybe this would work better in an older dishwasher? Maybe the new one is too efficient with the water and doesn't give the detergent enough of a chance to dissolve?  In any case, I have a big ole 10 pound tub of this detergent that I can't really stand to throw away.  It seems to be a fairly decent cleaner, just doesn't flow well or dissolve well.  I think it would work well as an abrasive cleaner in place of Comet or similar products.  Given how much of that type of cleaning I do, this will probably last until I'm old and gray."

So Julie found a great cheap cleaner...just not one that works well in her dishwasher. I was going through the comments on the blog to see if there were any tips for the clumping issues and found a number of ideas to help prevent the clumping (which seems to be a problem many people had with this recipe, not just Julie). 
Here are the tips: 

  • Add a teaspoon of rice to the detergent to help absorb moisture. 
  • Place about 1/4 c. of rice in a cheesecloth or stocking, tie the end, and place in the detergent to absorb moisture
  • After combining ingredients, leave the mixture out and stir it several times a day for two days. 
  • Add citric acid separately to each dishwasher load rather than adding it to the detergent. 
  • One commenter said "I love this!!! The only thing I have to add is Borox is DUSTY as all get out! Next time I will mix this outside! I made the mistake of making it AFTER cleaning my whole kitchen and floors and had to wipe it all up after. I also didn't add ANY citric acid OR lemon drink mix because, a) I couldn't find either and b) the comments suggested that it is what made it get clumpy AND the LemiShine has citric acid in it which is what makes it rock ( I have been using it for years with my hard water and swear by it!) So with a teaspoon of the detergent and a sprinkle of the LemiShine, we had amazingly clean dishes! Thank you so much for sharing this!!!"
This sounds like a great homemade cleaner, whether you use it for the dishwasher or around the house. This is one I'll have to put on my "to test" list!


  1. Just a note if you try this - be sure to label the container well, so no one sees it in the kitchen and thinks its Kool-Aid, Tang, sugar, etc...

  2. Just wanted to say that lemon Kool-Aid and Lemi Shine work because they contain citric acid. In fact, Lemi Shine is just expensive, "fancified" citric acid. Citric acid removes hard water and other stains. Lemi Shine is not a "rinse aid" and using both citric acid and Lemi Shine is just doubling up on the same ingredient. Vinegar, on the other hand, works great as a cheap rinse aid (helping dishes dry streak-free). I use cheap Target powdered dish detergent, vinegar, plus citric acid, which I bought a huge bag of on Amazon. About $20 worth has lasted me three years. This combo is inexpensive and easy. Just in case anyone might find this info useful. :)

  3. You could try dissolving it in a bit of water before adding it to the dishwasher. I'd try it with a single load first, and then if it works better do it larger amounts so it's ready to be measured in.

  4. I know this a way old post, but her dishwasher looks pretty similar to the new dishwasher we installed a few months back. It does a fantastic job, but I noticed after the first couple of washes that when you load stuff in the "detergent door" (for a lack of a better term) it never completely clears the little basin. We used liquid (because our old crappy dishwasher handled the liquid better) and tabs. Sometimes the tabs never made it out and part of the liquid was left in the little basin. We learned pretty early on that tabs just need to be thrown in the bottom of the dishwasher. I would imagine that it is the same in this case.


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